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A Chelsea Morning On Tallahassee's South Side

Chelsea Clinton speaks to supporters of her mother, Hilary Clinton, during a campaign stop in Tallahassee.
Jim Ash
Hilary Clinton,

Born into a governor’s mansion, Chelsea Clinton spent part of her formative years in the White House. In 2008, she was sent to college campuses for the first time to stump for her mother. On Friday, a more mature Chelsea Clinton was in Tallahassee playing campaign surrogate again, but this time to a different target audience.

The smell of grits and bacon hangs heavy in Earley’s Kitchen on South Monroe and a who’s who of Tallahassee’s political and business elite lines the walls.

Clinton is due in 20 minutes to address an event campaign aides are calling, “Tallahassee African American’s For Hillary.”

Luminaires are everywhere. Former Mayor Dot Inman-Johnson. Attorneys Ben Parks and Daryl Crump.  Seventies recording star George Clinton, aka P-Funk. City Commissioner Curtis Richardson is getting ready to warm up the crowd.

“Well, we just want to hear her address the issues of course, that important to the African American community. What are they? Well, jobs, education, fighting crime in the African American communities. Education of course.”

In one crowded corner, Latana Bancs’ sits quietly at a breakfast table with friends. The Florida A&M University program assistant wants to hear what a President Hillary Clinton would do about the economy.   

“Maybe also make it easy for single parents with daycare and stuff. More resources for them.”

Clinton slips into a side door almost unnoticed just before Reverend Greg James begins extolling her mother’s virtues, and her understanding of African American issues.

“And you know the thing that I want to say to you today is that when we look at America, African Americans, we’re still plagued with injustice, we’re still plagued with mass incarceration, we’re stilled plagued with inadequacies when it comes to school funding for schools.”

After greeting a few locals by name, the former First Daughter and NBC News special correspondent grabs a microphone and a stool and apologizes.

“I’m going to sit because I’m pregnant. Yes mam. Thank you, I’m feeling very blessed. But I’m also hearing my doctor’s voice in my head, telling me to sit down.”

The next president determines the fate of everything from gun control to abortion and voting rights, Clinton says, because he or she could pick as many as three Supreme Court justices.

But she says Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, her mother’s chief rival, only talks about campaign finance reform. She does not refer to him by name.

“She knows the court’s important for so much more than campaign finance reform alone. And if you listen to my mother’s opponent, he pretty much only

Florida environmental and labor activists sent a letter to the Clinton campaign late Thursday calling on her endorse a national ban on fracking, the controversial drilling method. Clinton says she hasn’t discussed the letter with her mother.

“My mom has spoken a lot about fracking. And she says very clearly, that when local communities oppose it, she opposes it. And she thinks very much that this should be a locally determined question.”

Clinton works her way out of the tiny restaurant, posing for selfies and photos every few feet. Outside, Clinton the recording star says he’s convinced Hillary will do the best job.
 “She’s the only one qualified. You know. I like Bernie Saunders and all that. But she’s been around the world. She’s been here for a while. She’s been doing it, and she knows what she’s doing.”

Clinton’s next stop was South Florida.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.